Since the 1980’s and the onset of the Home Improvement and Big Box stores, do-it-yourself practices have flourished. Combine this with the proliferation of the internet, and websites like YouTube, many more people can now find the products and instructions to perform many functions that used to be done by skilled professionals. Today most of America has shopped at these stores and have visited "how-to" websites to learn more. But when it comes to lawn care, is the DIY route really less expensive and better for your lawn?
Fertilizer Everywhere… But Which One?
Lawn care supplies now sold in every big box store and garden center offer a variety of fertilizers, insect controls and weed control products. There is no shortage of supplies, and for those that prefer to DIY, they have options. However, what we find is that the devil is in the details. Each and every product comes with detailed application and mixing instructions, called a product label.
Product Labels or Klingon?
Product labels are difficult to read for the average homeowner looking to apply fertilizer themselves. Applying the correct material at the correct rate, at the correct time is the difference between expected results and actual results. I know it goes without saying, but after all that work, isn’t the goal to make a big difference and see results?
So is it Really Cheaper to DIY?
The fact is that buying your own fertilizer generally save you around 10% to 15% versus hiring a professional lawn care operator. However, if you add in the cost of liquid weed control, and the cost of your time, hiring a lawn care company is actually cheaper. Not to mention that a lawn care professional is trained to apply the product correctly, yielding much better results.
Need Proof? Take a Look at Exhibit A:
A “certain” big box store is currently selling a bag of turf builder with weed control for $53.98 and claiming the bag will treat a 15,000 square foot lawn. However to apply the material at the proper rate recommended for the winterizer treatment, that same bag should only cover 13,000 square feet.
This is a trick big box stores use to make the product they are selling look more attractive. That means the cost to treat the lawn at the proper rate is $4.15 per thousand square feet to treat your lawn yourself. Compare that to hiring a Professional Lawn Care Company whose average price will be $65.00 to treat the same 13,000 square feet. That breaks down to $5.00 per thousand square feet.
Exhibit A: Conclusions
The total difference in cost is $11.02 to have a Professional treat your lawn as opposed to DIY. Now, let me explain the value you get for just $11.02.
In this example, the DIY product is a granular weed and feed. Our professional application is also a granular fertilizer, but the weed control is a liquid. While granular weed control can be effective, liquid weed control will provide superior results time after time. The professional application will provide at least 25% more effective weed control over DIY weed control.
- Hiring a professional saves you time. What is the cost in time driving to the store to pick up the material? What other tasks on your” honey do” list are you procrastinating on? Best case scenario you spend 30 minutes driving to and from the store, what is that worth?
- Does the store provide any guarantee the material worked?
- Do you have a safe and secure place to store any remaining material? If you have children or pets, please be sure to store material in in a dry secure area!
- Do you need to borrow or purchase the proper spreader to spread the product on your lawn? What is the maintenance cost of keeping your spreader in good working order?
- My favorite, while not necessarily cost related the frustration of reading the label instructions. This one all by itself is worth the $11.02 it cost you to hire a Professional.
We all have projects, and for some DIY- is a great option. However, the next time you plan to run out and pick up some material to make your lawn the envy of the neighborhood -consider what I said, and request an estimate from a Professional!
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